TEXAS (KYTX) - A warning for Texas hunters and ranchers after the first case of anthrax was confirmed in the state this year. It was found in a herd of antelope in West Texas.
Regular deer season opens November 2. If you plan on heading out to West Texas to hunt, then you definitely need to be extra careful because anthrax is one of the diseases that's transmittable from animals to humans.
"We did receive notification of our first case of anthrax this year in an antelope herd on a ranch in Edwards County."
That's in Southwest Texas.
Christine Mann, press officer for the Department of State Health Services, says that's where anthrax is most common.
She says animals become infected by grazing on contaminated grass.
"They take it in through their nose and take it in through their skin." says Tyler Morning Telegraph outdoor writer Steve Knight.
He says the naturally occurring bacteria usually shows up when there's a change in weather.
"You'll have a dry period then a wet period, or a wet period then a dry period, and it moves kind of to the surface. It's under the ground and it moves up to the surface, and animals will go with their nose down, just grazing."
As a hunter himself, he says minimizing contact with wild animals is your best protection against contracting anthrax.
"Hunters who collect horns and stuff- if you find a dead carcass out there, you don't want to touch it. You want to leave it alone. Landowners will typically come out there an burn it. That's about the only way they can get rid of it."
Mann says animals usually start showing symptoms of anthrax within a week of being infected.
"In this first case in Texas, an antelope on a ranch staggered and died. And then, several antelope in that same herd died very quickly."
She says contracting anthrax is rare in people, but it does happen.
"And so, if you are out hunting, just take common sense precautions by wearing gloves and long sleeve shirts and pants, and trying to avoid getting direct contact with your skin with the animal. And, you should be ok."
She says the last naturally occurring case of anthrax from animal to human in Texas was in 2001.
Anthrax is transmitted to people through openings in the skin. Your skin becomes itchy then turns into a sore and then a black scab. If left untreated, it could be deadly.
You don't want to hunt animals that seem sick or act unusual. Keep pets and children away from dead animals. Make sure to cook all wildlife thoroughly before you eat it. And then,wash your hands and clothes any time you've been around these animals.
Anthrax is a reportable disease in Texas. That means any time it is confirmed in animals or humans, healthcare providers are required to report it to the Department of State Health Services. So far, there have been no human cases of anthrax in Texas this year.